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Tis the Season. The Do’s and Don’ts of Holiday Festivities at Work

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The holidays bring a time of reflection and it’s a time to show gratitude at home and at work. We all spend a lot of time in our workplaces, and they too should reflect the sounds and scents of the season to keep employees engaged, boost morale and serve as a little motivation to get through the day.

Some places of work are more conducive for bigger celebrations that others and as a business owner you must balance bringing fun to the workplace without impacting productivity. As the leader of your organization, you are your organization’s culture champion. It’s important that you consider the best ways to bring the spirit of the season to life at the workplace.

Gauge your employees’ interest and create inclusive and organized events or activities that everyone can participate in regardless of their place in the organization. “Capitalizing on your organization’s unique personality and culture will make your parties even more successful at bringing people together and increasing overall engagement” (Strange, 2018)

There are some pitfalls, business owners need to avoid.

  • Stay away from religious types of celebration and activities
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Be aware of the cultural diversity within your organization so you don’t end up alienating or offending
  • Don’t force the fun, make the events, party, or activities voluntary
  • Don’t embarrass staff members or ask them to perform if they aren’t comfortable
  • Don’t speculate as to why someone chooses not to participate, respect their right to not get involved
  • Don’t celebrate in silos or exclude certain  employee groups

To make the holidays come to life in your organization. Consider the following;

  • Assign a committee or group of volunteers to organize the festivities
  • Plan, establish a budget and provide deadlines
  • Encourage a variety of activities, Cubicle decorating, Potluck, White Elephant gift exchange etc.
  • Create a tradition. Some activities can be done year after year so establish a ritual for the business. Cookie exchange, Stocking making, PJ day, Hot Chocolate Bar
  • Consider getting the team involved with a charitable organization; Have a toy drive or canned food drive; collect warm clothing for a shelter; Volunteer as a group to support an nonprofit during the season; Adopt a family; build an angel tree where employees can fulfill the wish of a child in need
  • Celebrate the diversity in the business and invite your team to share their holiday traditions, foods, or favorite activities
  • Have a cookie decorating day, or a create cards for service personnel away from home
  • Decorations should reflect several cultures not just one, so include Christmas, Kwanza, Hanukah and other global celebrations and traditions

Remember that your goal is to build bonds amongst your staff. Encourage interaction so they can get to know each other and create a relaxed environment so that the spirit of the holidays spread cheer to everyone in your business. Don’t make the celebrations a burden or distraction instead integrate holidays by adding a variety of elements.

  • Pipe in ambient music
  • Add fresh decorations – Holy, evergreens, berries are a great way to add a festive feel
  • Go retro and put up vintage decorations, tinsel trees etc.
  • Use flameless candles or Air Fresheners to bring the scents of the season safely to the office.
  • Invite a school to bring carolers to your office to perform
  • Provide virtual backgrounds that are holiday related for your Zoom or Virtual Meetings
  • Handout head band so that your team can dawn their favorite holiday character even if they are working remotely

Themes are  great way to get everyone involved; Choose from one of these if you are struggling to come up with one of your own but let the imagination of your staff shine through.

  • Harry Potter Holiday – Decorate with magical touches reminiscent of the film franchise
  • My Favorite Holiday Movie – Whether it be Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer, Santa Clause is Coming to town, A Charlie Brown Christmas, A Christmas Story or Elf let the holiday movies guide your decorations and activities
  • My Favorite Holiday Song- White Christmas, Jingle Bells, Silver and Gold and many other classic songs can be a great catalyst for making holiday traditions at work
  • Dr. Seuss Holiday- Get inspire and bring the Grinch and Whoville to life in your space
  • Global Celebrations- Serve different foods, publish recipes and encourage the sharing of culture traditions specific day
  • Winter Wonderland- Cover your office with white, silver, and fake snow to bring a winter feel inside
  • Candy Cane Holiday- Use this favorite peppermint swirled candy to guide the decorations and activities to life

Consider extending the celebratory environment beyond just your staff, find ways to delight, surprise and celebrate with your vendors, supplier and most importantly you customers. Spread abundance throughout your business and let it spill out during this festive time of year.


Carmen Gigar is the Chief Marketing Officer for ActionCOACH Global.